Introduction: How to Grind Hamburger

Picture of How to Grind Hamburger

I heard somewhere that the average hamburger patty contains the DNA of around 1,000 cows. Wow that's gross! Today I am going to show you how to grind your own hamburger at home. The taste is far superior to commercial burger, and you KNOW what's in it.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

Bacon--one strip per pound of beef
Cutting Board
Butcher Paper
Meat Grinder
Large Bowl

Beef--I shop around and buy what is on sale, any cut of beef will do. Just remember the more fat, gristle, or silver skin the more work there is in step 2. It's waste and you wind up with less burger.

Bacon--Most commercial hamburger is supposed to be a mixture of lean beef, tallow, and water. Tallow is a firm, flavorless fat that collects around the spine of the cow, it is used to bind the burger keeping it's shape after cooking. Bacon is used to replace the tallow, holding the burger together and tastes way better than plain tallow. Water is weight that evaporates during cooking, you pay for it but you don't eat it.

Meat Grinder--Hand crank, electric, doesn't matter. I got lucky and have a Kitchen-aid with a grinder attachment.

Step 2: Clean and Prepare Meat

Picture of Clean and Prepare Meat

Remove any fat, gristle, or silver skin. It doesn't have to be perfect but the cleaner it is the more you'll notice a difference over store bought. Once cleaned cut into strips, roughly 1x1 inch. If using hand grinder you may want to make them smaller, not sure never used one, but after you grind the first strip you'll know what you can or can't grind. Assemble your grinder following it's instructions.

Step 3: Grinding the Meat

Picture of Grinding the Meat

I like to start with a strip of bacon, to grease everything up inside the grinder. Then poke the meat in one piece at a time. Adding a piece of bacon after several strips of beef until everything is ground into large bowl. Be careful of fingers and neckties, you don't want that in the beef.

Note-- Air bubbles tend to form inside the grinder causing meat to fly. I use the saran wrap on the end of the grinder is to keep the meat off my walls. Held in place with a rubber band.

Step 4: Second Grind

Picture of Second Grind

Now we get our hands dirtier. You'll see pockets of bacon in the burger, mix it into the burger a little better. If you want to add seasoning to your burger this is the time to do it. Using the butcher paper to help, roll the burger into a tube or log. This simply helps you pack the ground burger back into the grinder. Taking small handfuls, grind it again, using the same bowl as before.

IMPORTANT--After the first handful be ready to catch the burger that comes out and put it back through the grinder. Why? There is still meat in the grinder from the first grind that needs to be ground again.

Step 5: Finished Product

Picture of Finished Product

When done, pack the burger together in the bowl. Pour onto new sheet of butcher paper, divide and store however you want.

When cooking the burger, you will notice there won't be a lot of grease in your pan, you probably won't have to drain it like store bought burger. There will also be no foaming and bubbling during the cooking process because there is no water. I used to work at a meat shop and the recipe for burger called for one gallon of water for every 20 pounds of burger. So that's approximately a third of what you pay for. That's expensive water.

My family loves this, my wife won't eat any other burger. Plus, you get the bacon flavor built in, there is only the DNA of one cow and one pig, and no floor scraps. This usually only takes about 30 minutes to do five pounds. So it doesn't have to be an all day chore to get fresh burger.

Remember make it with love, you are feeding it to your people, we can't all be vegans but we can try a little harder. Enjoy!


toain (author)2015-08-22

0 seconds ago

your guide is useful. thanks

This is a wonderful method for making chicken.

if you need a meat grinder. visit read more information.

SageMinto (author)2012-10-16

Wonderful instructable. I have make ground beef from steaks in the past, and the taste was wonderful. Next is to try this your way :)
Can't wait!
This is also a wonderful method for making chicken, turkey or shrimp burgers from scratch~ lol

smilesnhighfives (author)2010-09-03

Kewl! Very Informative. This makes me want to actually buy a hand grinder. (I can't afford an electric grinder.) I never would have thought a strip of bacon for every pound of beef is all it takes to keep it together while cooking. Now, if only I could talk the local butcher into adapting this recipe. hehehe. Hmm, is it possible to do this with a food processor?

I have seen recipes on the internet for burger ground in a food processor and I think Alton Brown did one on Good Eats. The texture is not supposed to be the same though. A hand grinder seems like the best most affordable choice, It's where I started. Hand grinding elk for burger as a child for my dad.

jrothlisberger (author)2010-09-05

I made my first batch about 2 weeks ago (bought 2 large chuck roasts from Sam's club along with their bacon) and just made a second batch yesterday. Wow! At first my wife thought I was nuts, after her first burger she said I can keep making them and my daughter also loves them. One other piece of advise I had seen from Alton Brown is to put the bowl the meat is falling into another bowl with ice. He suggested the process of grinding generates some heat and it is best to keep the beef cooled down. Thanks for the instructable!

aqualectrix (author)2010-07-29

This might be the right time for some kinds of seasoning, but it's a bad time to add salt:

tyedyedsoul (author)aqualectrix2010-07-30

Thank you. That is a great article. I did not know salt would do that to your burger. It looks like it is totally ruined.

maurice1993 (author)2010-07-19

capibara burguers, that my friends, is the way to go. after you try one... i'll never want to eat cow meat again...

nightninja87 (author)2010-06-02

i use to go to college and we did ower own butchering in the class for the steaks and the like we would always save the trimmings of like extra meat that was right size for steaks and stuff and grind it and use it for family meal for the class on different days i havent used my grinder in a bit but the one we used at the college we would let the grinder sit in the freezer so the meat wouldnt get warm so were it was easier to grind i was wondering when i got my kitchenaid attachment it came with two sizes did  you use the large then the small or just the large twice over?

tyedyedsoul (author)nightninja872010-06-02

 I use the small holes for both grinds. I may be wrong but I use the large for grinding pork for sausage. My Kitchen Aid is getting kind of old and running the meat thought the large holes first might be easier on it. Thanks for the idea I'm going to try it next time!!

nightninja87 (author)tyedyedsoul2010-06-05

it should work better since the first grind the meat isnt exactly already chopped up small enough and chilled is the key :)

bluesquirrel (author)2010-05-05

AHA! So you CAN grind bacon into burgers! O: I had brought this idea up to my mother and she told me I was a loon XD Now I gotta try this O:

red-king (author)bluesquirrel2010-05-05

 you can grind any meat into burgers.

Phoghat (author)red-king2010-05-31

A very flavorful burger can be made from lamb. Do a search on for recipes. Tastes a bit like a giro, if you put them in a pita with tzatseke sause

rabidpotatochip (author)red-king2010-05-06

I imagine the one fatal flaw in a pure bacon burger is that it would go from 1lb to 2oz by the time it finishes cooking though. ;)

red-king (author)rabidpotatochip2010-05-06

nah. just make em bigger. haha.

bFusion (author)2010-05-11

This is fantastic, I'm glad more people are doing this. I started grinding my own hamburger 6 months ago and I haven't turned back.

I also wanted to chime in and say that this CAN be done in a food processor as well, if you don't have access to a meat grinder. Just cut the meat into 1/2" cubes and process 6-8 oz at a time for 10-15 pulses. It's also great to just toss a clove of garlic in there with each batch to really infuse the meat with flavor.

Phoghat (author)bFusion2010-05-31

I've tried the food processor route and it works well, as long as you don't over process it. I sometimes buy from Fresh Direct and will order an entire rib roast. I have it cut into a roast and steaks and ask for them to include the trimmings (I paid for them after all). From just the trimmings I sometimes get 2 lbs of burger meat.

0jack (author)2010-05-27

I need to start doing this again -- great reminder, great Ible.  Of course, when the kid was very little, I made sure everything she stuffed in her maw was organic & mama-approved.  Then she decided to live on chicken nuggets.  :p (I do still make steak tartare for my partner, by hand, all organic.)

In the past, I included leftover ham in some, and I kneaded in fresh herbs and feta cheese and balsamic vinegar -- in both cases, these were for batches being used immediately, I don't know how adding those components would affect the meat long-term.

Phoghat (author)0jack2010-05-31

Have a recipe for the steak tartare?
Always wanted to try it

fegundez1 (author)2010-05-06

I have been a butcher for almost twenty years and I am still surprised that people dont know that you can have the meat cutter grind meat for you! For instance if the boneless chuck roast is on sale then you pick out a few nice ones and say will you grind these for me? Presto ground chuck! The different grades of ground beef are done by fat content or are just what it says ground chuck is 80-20 meaning 80% lean 20% fat, round is the round top/bottom ,london broil etc ground up,85-15, the stuff that says ground beef is the worst buy it is 75-25, tus one quarter of the ground beef is fat and will cook off. Most shops sell what is called market grind that is a grind made of trimmings and roasts and steaks that are mis cuts etc usually this is about the same in fat as the chuck. Dont forget you do need some fat as your burger will be tough without it also thats where the juice comes from! If you add things peppers,bacon cheese etc try to use no salt versions as this will also dry outthe burger chop the additions up well and mix them well. Last but most important, if you buy a grinder WASH it and use a small bit of bleach to sanitize the plate thats the part with the holes ground meats will have any pathogens all through the grind as its all mixed togather! Happy cooking

static (author)fegundez12010-05-31

35 years I worked in a supermarket meat department part time when attending tech school. At that time the generic hamburger was made from these slabs of compressed frozen beef, that where sawed into 1" square atrips to be feed into the grinder, it that still done?  As I recall ground chuck was limited, ground round not to be seen at all at that time.

ThanksDolph (author)2010-05-26

Not sure if this has been said yet or not, but when grinding my own beef I usually go for the less expensive, tougher, more flavorfull parts of the cow. More often than not I use beef shoulder, or part of the round. Whatever you do don't grind up tender cuts, that's just ridiculous.

howie57 (author)2010-05-06

 Grinding your own hamburger is a great idea. It saves money and gives you a much better product. My father used to grind hamburger from chuck years ago for my mother. She was a very picky eater. He ground the chuck in a Sunbeam Oskar food processor. It worked great. I still have it and still use it to grind  burger. I also use it to make my deviled eggs, it makes them very smooth. But that is an other story.

EMC45 (author)2010-05-06

I too have a meat grinder (2 actually) one is an electric SS meat grinder and the other is a hand crank type I got a yard sale for 5 bucks. I did up some burgers one time very similar to your Instructable. I used 1lb deer meat, 1lb beef and 3 thick slices of hickory smoked bacon. All ground in the hand crank grinder. I made some substantial patties and we cooked them (Not sure if we grilled them or cooked them in the cast iron skillet) . My wife said it was the BEST burger she ever ate!! But alas, no deer fell to my rifle this year so I have to wait for this upcoming season to fill the freezer.

rickym (author)2010-05-05

 This might have been asked but i'm to lazy to read all of the comments, where did you buy the kitchen aid meat grinder? and how much was it? =D 

LittleWolf (author)rickym2010-05-05

Amazon has it for $43.88 with free shipping:

Sadly I don't have a stand mixer yet =(

rickym (author)LittleWolf2010-05-05

but wow thats almost half of what i paid for my mixer 

tyedyedsoul (author)LittleWolf2010-05-05

 Thank you Little Wolf, you took the words right out of my mouth!

etb (author)2010-05-05

Like it.  I just picked up a grinder today, and Presto! - perfect timing.

heheheha (author)2010-05-05

I like to add onion and garlic to my meat...becuase those are the triumphant two that make anything great. If you grind your onions or whatever AFTER the meat, it pushes the leftover meat through the grinder and clears it out. I myself would rather loose some onion over loosin some meat...

And don't forget to season!

juanoporras (author)2010-05-05

very nice!! thanks for sharing, I have never done this because I dont have a grinder, but I also try to keep off of those store burgers, you never know whats in it, Im gonna tr to get a meat grinder to try this out, also love the idea of puting the spices in the meat, Im going to try it with chicken to se how it goes.

thanks again for sharing!

TechNerd1012 (author)2009-10-05

Thank you for this instructable! Ive been wanting to learn how to do this for a long, long time! I tried this last night, and the burger tasted awesome! It was WAY better than store bought! And it seems like this same process can be used for other meats, like buffalo. I was able to get a 2 pound hunk of meat for only a few dollars at a butcher near my house, so it was like half the cost of store bought. I was also lucky enough to have this same grinder attachment. Thanks again!

also, ive found that sticking the thawed/raw meat in the freezer for just about 20 - 25 mins beforehand makes it just hard enough to cut and grind easily, but not too hard to cut at all.

autolycos (author)2008-08-05

Very good instructable. One thing I would comment on is that you use much leaner meat than a butcher would use. One of the benefits of grinding your own is to be able to control the amount of fat, but fat has important qualities of binding, flavor, and mouth feel. When I grind my own, I tend to try for between 75 and 80% lean.

TechNerd1012 (author)autolycos2009-10-05

thats a good amount i think i even go for about 90%

EviLNinJa (author)2009-04-22

You worked at a shop where they added water to ground beef? that is the craziest thing i ever heard. I have worked at 3 shops and never have I ever heard of adding water to burger. H2o would make the burger turn dark less then a hour after grinding. Most meat is shipped with retained water.. at all the shops i have worked at we would drain out this water and blood b4 grinding to increase shelf life of the beef. Also home grinded burger still could have hundreds or thousands of cows DNA. It depends on the factory the beef was packed at and what other cuts the piece came in contact with as well as the butchers block where the meat was cut. It could even have pork, lamb, veal, chicken, turkey... even human if a eye lash of skin cell found its way somewhere.. lol not to pretty to think about but true.

EviLNinJa (author)EviLNinJa2009-04-22

good job on the instructable tho.. 5 *

TechNerd1012 (author)EviLNinJa2009-10-05

i think what they meant by thousands of cows' DNA in the burger is that the burger was probably ground from a lot of different cows' meats, and they might have added other unknown "fillers" to the ground meat to weigh it down more. With this process, you know that you only have meat from a single cow, and that there is no added junk.

lrd1 (author)2009-07-05

I make my first ground beef (actually ground steak) yesterday out of equal amounts of rib steak and skirt steak. I didn't add any beef bacon or remove any fat from the rib steak since I didn't want it to be too lean. The beef was good and cold but nowhere near frozen. I added some Montreal Steak Seasonings since we love in on steaks, used the medium hole plate (although the instructions said to use the small hole plate) since I ran the meat thru the grinder twice. The meat coming out of the grinder was a sickly pink color (I expected it to be a darker red) and tasted awful! What did I do wrong - leave the fat on the rib steak meat?? Any suggestion is appreciated.

tyedyedsoul (author)lrd12009-07-05

Wow. I'm really sorry to hear that. I am no expert but in my opinion it could have been the grinder you used. The old style all metal grinders can leave a nasty metallic taste in the meat if not properly stored and cleaned BEFORE and after you use them. Even the plastic models will develop a "funk" if not cleaned very well. Especially if you run seasoning through the grinder with the meat. It also could have been the fat. I do not like the taste of beef fat. Fat is added to hamburger so the meat will hold the shape you give it before you cook it. Tallow is basically flavorless. Bacon is mostly fat and tastes way better to me, so it gets the job done very well. In a pinch I have used plain pork fat I had in the freezer. I use it when grinding sausage. The hamburger was fine though. As for the color. When you grind meat you are exposing a huge amount of meat to the air. It has not had time to oxidize which turns meat darker and darker shades of red until finally brown. As far as I know, the pinker the better. I hope this helped in some way. P.S. Thanks for checking out my Instructable.

rocklocker (author)2009-06-18

Good instuctable with one exception. Tallow is refined beef fat. It is made by rendering beef fat (preferably the fat from around the kidneys), straining out the solids and then simmering the liquid for several hours in a large pot with equal amounts of water. Place pot in fridge and when solid take out of pot and scrape the soft fat off the bottom of the tallow. You will end up with an odorless, hard white cake of tallow. Melt this down and pour into jars, it will last indefinitely if kept covered. Rocklocker

kricketone (author)2008-08-07

Very nice, and well done,hummm garlic powder? hot sause? lol

jlamontagne (author)2008-08-05

Wow! What a great set of instructions. What type of beef would you recommend for this burger?

tyedyedsoul (author)jlamontagne2008-08-05

I have used London Broil, rump roasts, really any cut of beef is ok. Grinding does a good job of tenderization. You want to make sure there is NO BONE, I should have put that in the instuctable, sorry. Bone = Waste for making burger! Look at the meat, you don't want to make it to much work for yourself. The more fat and tendon or gristle on the meat the more work it is to remove and the more waste you will have. There is usually one side of a roast that has a layer of fat called the "fat cap" on it this is normal and needs to be removed. Start small and experiment to find what works for you,you have that option now. Also try to remember the weight printed on the package when you buy the beef so you add the right amount of bacon. I hate going in the trash to find out.

shooby (author)tyedyedsoul2008-08-05

At my supermarket, they pack roasts with this cap of fat on the underside, rendering it invisible. Sneaky Stop & Shop

shooby (author)2008-08-05

Nice idea adding the bacon in with the grind. What about egg, I usually add 1 egg per pound of meat when making burgers/meat balls, add it before the second grind maybe?

I prefer lots of cows' DNA in my burger, more variety = stronger gene pool right?

tyedyedsoul (author)shooby2008-08-05

NO lots of DNA= more chance that one of those cow carried a disease which could pass to you.
Eggs are cool though!

shooby (author)tyedyedsoul2008-08-05

Yeah I know, just joking. I don't think feeding from a wide variety of DNAs is the equivalent to breeding from the same.

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